In a pinch, students use borrowed menstrual products


Chloe Ma

Although pads and tampons are provided in bathrooms, they’re often out of stock, leading students to borrow their friends’ products.

Clare McRoberts, Reporter

“Having a period is not a choice, and it shouldn’t be treated as one,” Katie Williams, a sophomore, said, summing up a common complaint among U-High students. 

For several years, students and staff members have worked to address the need to ensure that period products are free and available in Lab bathrooms. But Katie and other students said supplies still run short sometimes, leaving them scrambling to search for products in the middle of school.

In addition to dispensers that had long existed in the bathrooms where students can purchase products, baskets now offer free supplies. Still, there are times when the baskets of products go empty. 

“I feel there needs to be a lot more work at Lab to get more pads and tampons accessible,” sophomore Yolo Martinez said.

Since at least 2018, students and staff members have worked to make period products more available to students. Ruthie Williams, a middle school home economics teacher, helped organize a middle school group called Free the Tampons, which has pushed for making period products accessible to students. Back then, pads and tampons were only available for free in some bathrooms. 

The baskets, including free supplies, were meant to solve the problem, but Ms. Williams and others say they notice that the baskets of supplies sometimes run out. When that happens, Ms. Williams said, an email to the school’s operations department quickly gets the baskets refilled.

Joe Wachowski, operations director, said the original idea for the free supplies was to be a shared responsibility where students would take a product when they needed it and then replace it with one of their own later. But that, he said, has not always happened. 

“We have ordered the products for this year and already had to reorder more,” he said.

Still, some students say, there are times when the issue remains a problem.

Earlier this school year, Téa Tamburo, a junior, found herself sprinting through hallways, up staircases, and in and out of bathrooms in order to avoid being late to advisory. She could not find a single pad, but happened to run into a friend, who saved her from the menstrual emergency.

“I think there’s change that still needs to take place,” said Téa, who has worked on efforts to expand the availability of supplies in past years. 

It’s literally just a biological thing, and I don’t think it’s anything to be embarrassed about.

— Téa Tamburo

She said it is important to be open about periods to create a comfortable environment. 

“It’s literally just a biological thing,” Téa said, “and I don’t think it’s anything to be embarrassed about.”

For the moment, some students have found their own solutions, which often involve distributing products to one another.

Téa said she keeps supplies in the bottom of her locker.

“All my friends have my locker combination, so they will just go in there and get them sometimes.”